ISL playoff I: Odisha FC vs Kerala Blasters FC- Preview, live info

Odisha FC's attacking flair against Kerala Blasters FC's resilience promises a spectacle worthy of the playoffs, today at 7:00 PM at the Kalinga stadium.

Update: 2024-04-19 04:00 GMT

ISL Knockout 1: Odisha FC vs Kerala Blasters FC

As the Indian Super League (ISL) season barrels towards its conclusion, fans brace themselves for an electrifying game between Odisha FC and Kerala Blasters FC in playoff 1 at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar on Friday. Both teams are set for a massive clash, each armed with their own arsenal of strengths and strategies.

The Kalinga Warriors rounded off the league stage in fourth place with 39 points from 22 matches, marking their best-ever tally in the ISL. They have enjoyed a commendable season thus far, boasting an unbeaten 13-match home streak and being the first team to secure a spot in the ISL playoffs, setting the stage for an intense battle, with both teams eyeing glory.

The Kalinga Warriors' attacking prowess, boosted by the presence of senior strikers in Roy Krishna and Diego Mauricio, Odisha FC sailed through large chunks of the campaign comfortably due to their dominance upfront. With 35 goals to their name, they recorded the best shot conversion in the league at 17.9%. They have the second-best shooting accuracy in the league, at 48.5%.

Coach Sergio Lobera exudes confidence ahead of the clash, acknowledging the advantage of playing at home but emphasizing the need for readiness for the full 90 minutes and beyond. "We are excited about this possibility because we know in four games, we can emerge as champions of the ISL this season," Lobera stated, highlighting the team's hunger for success.

On the other side of the pitch, Kerala Blasters FC, under the guidance of coach Ivan Vukomanovic, enter the playoffs with a mix of anticipation and cautiousness. Despite a rocky road in the latter half of the season, the Yellow Army clinched a playoff spot with a strong performance in the initial stages.

13 out of their 33 points this season have come through away fixtures. In fact, they have won six games in Kochi and four away from home, indicating that they will be up to overcome whatever challenge Odisha FC front them within the playoffs at the Kalinga Stadium on April 19. To put some context, the Kalinga Warriors have the best home record in the league, having collected 27 points from 11 matches, and it is a bastion that Vukomanovic & Co. will have difficulties in breaching, in fact Kerala Blasters are yet to defeat Odisha at the Kalinga stadium.

"Odisha are one of the best teams in the league. They were one of the most consistent team throughout the season and full squad of foreigners available and they represented India at AFC and that's the team showed the most this season," acknowledged Vukomanovic.

However, Kerala Blasters FC are not without their own weapons. The return of Adrian Luna after a long absence adds depth to their midfield, although his fitness for a full 90 minutes remains a consideration. "Adrian Luna is with us. He's coming back after a long period, we have to consider that. He cannot play 90 minutes. But probably we will see Luna back on the pitch tomorrow. We'll assess Dimitrios's fitness, if there is any risk, we will not take the risk as we need 100% ready players. So if it's too early for him he will not be in the team," Vukomanovic emphasized.

"It's an advantage for us to play at home, but we need to be ready to play for the full 90 minutes. We need to be ready for extra time. We need to be ready for penalties," commented Lobera, echoing the sentiment of preparedness.

The fans can watch the game live on Sports 18 and Jio Cinema.


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